Makhtesh Ramon, one of the most amazing geological phenomenon in Israel not many travellers know about.
The big question now, what Makehtesh Ramon is? Maybe I should answer this question with a story…
One morning, more exactly hundreds of millions of years ago, when Negev Desert was covered by the waters of a big ocean, the sun was rising. Maybe it was a sunrise that marked the beginning of the period when the ocean started to retire his waters towards the North, leaving behind a hill shaped formation. Without the protection of the ocean`s waters, the hill found himself at the mercy of nature. Little by little, it was flattened by the repeated slaps of the rain and wind. Soon though, it wasn’t only the rain and wind which were starting to carve the crater. After a while, the Great Rift Valley, which starts from South Lebanon and goes to East Africa, was formed and because of that, rivers changed their courses. Two rivers started to flow in the Negev washing out the softer layers of the crater. The crater started to deepen being surrounded by vertical walls made out of harder rocks. By the time that those rivers dried out a 40km long and 8km width crater in shape of a heart was left behind.
Makhtesh Ramon is one of the 7 erosion cirques that can be found in the world. It has a depth of 500m and through its layers revealed by the erosions, gives a sneak peek into earth evolution.
5 AM, and I was sitting on the rim of Makhtesh Ramon waiting for another sunrise in Israel, this time in Negev Desert. I was trying to embrace the crater with one glance but it was a bit hazy. There was no one around, just some Ibex looking curious at me. Maybe they were waiting for the sunrise as well and I was disturbing. I would never know.
I think, early morning is the best time to observe the crater from above. I could not wait to be down there, exploring every feature. But, first, I just wanted to see another sunrise. To see the sun opening my day, it was like I was waiting for sun`s blessing. At least, this was the way I felt it that day.
A big heart was laying at my feet and I was feeling so sorry that I allowed myself only one day to explore it. Not even one day because I was going to see as much as I could on my way to Eilat.
I felt sorry that I could not spend more time in the little town Mitzpe Ramon.
Ibex were on the streets at every corner like stray cats. I was perplexed when I saw an entire family in a park eating the flowers, but after seeing it everywhere it did not seem that strange anymore. I must confess, I made huge efforts not to feed them, although I was so tempted. There were so many signs saying not to feed the Ibex, Maybe they were right! After all, some foods we eat are not even healthy for us, so how can it be healthy for the Ibex?
Probably I should start with the fact that not too many travellers know about this nature`s wonder. This spectacular lunar landscape attracts more and more wanderers from around the world. Coming here I realized that is not only the geological phenomenon that is fascinating but also the fact that I was following the Nabatean incense route as well. This route was the catalyst for the development of Petra in Jordan, Avdat fortress not too far from Mitzpe Ramon and Khan Saharonim, its ruins can be found in Makhtesh Ramon.
Walking along the rim offers the best view over the crater to see the jagged walls which are still under constant erosion. To watch the effects of the sunset on the colours of Makhtesh Ramon is amazing but to see a sunrise is really one life time experience.
Recent a promenade along the crater was built and it is the best way to feel, see, comprehend the beauty and complexity of the makhtesh.
The road 40 is winding down the crater and this was the road I took to cross the crater and go to Eilat.
I haven’t explored the way I wanted and there are still so many things I want to see but I did stop to see the hills made of hexagonal quartzite rocks or the coloured sandstone layers in the old mines.
When Makhtesh Ramon was forming layers of rock were washed away by the rivers revealing now rocks which are 200 million years old. In some parts of the crater can be found rocks from the Jurassic period.
There is an entire ecosystem with specific flora and fauna. To be able to see it is better to spend few days camping in the park and follow the off-roads to reach the distant ends of the Nature Reserve.
Sadly for me, I did not had much time to spend there. Followed the road 40 deepening in the Negev Desert. Next stop, Eilat. But before leaving the Makhtesh I had one last stop at Zinim Cliff.
I wanted to stay there more time and do some hiking. The heat and the lack of time did not let me. I wasn’t ready for the desert, this was a fact. But now I know what to expect at my next visit.
From Tel Aviv to Makhtesh Ramon are 198km and it takes 2 hours to get there by car taking the route 40.
For accommodation use Airbnb it is more affordable.
If you hike in the crater take water with you and respect the nature.
Don’t miss the sunset or the sunrise and go on promenade from one end to another.
Do not feed the Ibex,
Take lots of pictures and memories with you,